Out Of The Cage


ace3_icon.gif gabriella_icon.gif gideon_icon.gif marie_icon.gif pride2_icon.gifrichard3_icon.gif robyn4_icon.gif tibby2_icon.gif

Scene Title Out of the Cage
Synopsis Rossignol has its official opening; connections are made and re-made.
Date November 13, 2020


The tone immediately set at Rossignol is warmth. Everything is in burnished shades of bronze, gold, champagne, and ebony. The décor is thoroughly modern, and tinted windows provide an overlook of the revitalization of Staten Island. Plush sofas line one wall and square tables for two – or more, when pushed together – are scattered about the rest of the space with low-backed chairs upholstered in suede, dark chocolate with a warm metallic marbling.

Opposite the line of sofas is the bar, the dark surface of wood polished to such a shine that it reflects the lighting overhead like stars on placid lake waters. In addition to securing drinks there, waitstaff easily recognized by their dress – immaculate black pants or skirts (based on preference of server, rather than something as arbitrary as gender) and vests over white dress shirts, and black ties dotted with subtle golden stars – flit about the seating to unobtrusively make themselves available to patrons.

The seating is on tiered levels to ensure there isn't a bad seat in the house for the lounge's main attraction: A stage set for a jazz band, a polished grand piano the focal piece. The second level includes VIP boxes with sofas, polished mahogany coffee tables, and private bar service.

Rossignol boasts live music every night of the week, most featuring chanteuse Ourania Pride on piano and vocals.

I know someday you'll live a beautiful life,

I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky,

Although Rossignol has been a pet — passion, for some — project in the past months, its soft open has been a lengthy one; intentional, it gives the news of a grand opening more weight for its importance. It helps, in a fashion, that a portion of proceeds is being lauded as a donation to several small charities. The revitalization of Staten Island has been a breath of fresh air on the Safe Zone; jobs, firstly, but once the first channels of green started legitimately flowing into the veins of the district, its more enterprising locals were the first to take advantage.

But, why, why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?

Though the lounge's primadonna is its most regular performer, other acts have the periodic pleasure of being able to take the stage — sometimes alongside her, in certain acts, and there are always chances to open for the nightlies. The orchestral-hued cover of 'Black', is light and full, the singer calm in her presence as the band helps her to wrap up this particular opening; Marie d'Sarthe, hair coiffed back and twisted down one shoulder, dress dark and limned in silver sheen.

Warm lights and sounds keep the chill of autumn out, and the view outside of the shadow of the windows twinkles between Staten, the river, and far beyond into the rest of the city skyline — what it consists of these days, of course. Perhaps not as grand in stature as it used to be… but there is a pull it creates, a reminder of resilience.

At the height of the VIP sections, in its expensive wood and slick construction, sits the best seat in the house; the king's throne, however, lies empty as could be.

Rather, Gideon mingles with his 'subjects', as only a risen man could; smiles of every shade, tones of every stripe, all used to move flawlessly amongst the topmost patrons. His silver hair identifies him long before the intricate shine of threading in the dark, night-blue of his suit. The event is a lax black-tie, a modern flexibility of style and color, brought to matching by the overlay of champagne and bronze in the lounge.

The throne may be empty, but that doesn’t mean the audience chamber is devoid of subjects. The aforementioned primadonna stands at the railing of the largest VIP box, one hand curled around it and the other around her drink; a midori sour in lieu of her usual lemon drop martini. It matches her gown, a column silhouette of alternating silk and matte stripes in varying shades of green from spring to hunter to forest. Serving as a contrast, a wide, shiny gold belt fastens at her back, cinching high around her waist. The drape of her blonde hair hides the spaghetti straps at her shoulders, but does nothing to obscure the silver chain that disappears beneath the low cut of the dress’ neckline.

If her moods were chameleonic, the shade would be as green as her attire. Fortunately for Ourania Pride, she doesn’t telegraph her emotions the way that others do to her. Or would. Not tonight, however. With the house packed as it is, even the upstairs lounge doesn’t feel far enough away from that tumultuous sea below to be tapping into her ability without cause. Rather than be focused on the stage — where someone else sits on her throne — the off-duty songstress follows the movements of her patron throughout the crowd with a mild curiosity. Whose hands will he shake? How quickly will he extricate himself from one conversation to move on to the next?

Her desire to continue observing wanes as the song draws to its conclusion and the audience begins to applaud. Ourania turns around, leaving her back resting against the rail as she takes a long drink from her glass. Her attention is turned inward now, to the others who've chosen to congregate here, rather than mingle with the masses. The metaphorical mask she wears is one painted to convey a sense of serenity, as though the heady combination of the rich warmth of the venue and Marie's voice have inspired such calm.

If there's any place that someone who could be considered a cop should maybe carefully consider before showing up at, it's a place like this. Robyn Roux seems to have thrown that caution to the wind, however, as she steps through the front door and into this glorious new establishment - new to her, at least.

Far be it for her to miss the grand opening of a new club and venue, even if Rossignol is more the former than the latter. It doesn't matter - music is music, and anyone who's bringing it back to New York City gets at least some appreciation from her.

Her attempt at not standing out may fall flat, however. While seemingly opaque purple lensed glasses attempt to help frame and hide her face, the rest of her is very noticeable in her long crushed blue jacket, short skirt, black corset patterned top, and long, claw like jewelry adorning her hands. Earrings jingle and odango styled hair bobs as she looks around, wanting to avoid the owner while still enjoying the night, a hand wrapping tight around the raven-skull head of her cane as she smiles and pushes deeper into the establishment.

She did have an invite, after all.

"Look at that one," a voice at Ourania's shoulder murmurs, attention still turned out toward the club below from their position in the VIP box. "The claws on her."

Harry Stoltz isn't a New York native, isn't familiar enough with its past scene to recognize Robyn Roux or the fact that she's trying to obscure herself, but he finds himself seeing her worthy of the commentary anyway. He's dressed in a shade of emerald that perfectly matches the darker bands of his partner's gown, a maroon tie breaking up the field of darker gray of his shirt. One hand is slid into the pockets of his slacks, exposing simple gold cufflinks which match the band that encircles Ourania's waist.

He's glad to see a bounty of class congregating. If there were worries Rossignol's location would be too far removed from the Safe Zone to attract its finer residents, the trust— the reputation— the establishment has built up over these last few months sees to that worry's erasure.

"We should join them out there," he suggests. The masses, but Gideon as well. "It's about time for it." They've spent long enough lording in the box above; they can deign to find the bar on the first floor just as easily. There's a wider selection down there, anyway.

Harry looks to Ourania at his side with a quirk to one side of his mouth. It lifts. "Smile, darling," he encourages her. "This is an exciting night. A grand opening to pay off on all those dress rehearsals."

The placid surface of Ourania’s features is disrupted by a ripple of disdain as she angles a look over her shoulder to spy on whoever it is that’s caught Harry’s eye. The note of appreciation in his voice rankles her more, but that’s left to lurk beneath, unseen. “Mm,” she hums noncommittally, shifting her attention back to where it was. She does recognize the shape of the former Studio K mogul — after all, she made sure to mention this event to her when she was effusive about it at Raytech — but offers her partner no context. She will not be volunteering Roux’s SESA affiliation. The last time she invited a cop to the venue, they nearly had a row.

Furthering how positively disgusting the pair of them are when it comes to coordinating their outfits, her lipstick — the quality kind that hasn’t transferred to her cocktail vessel — has been matched to his tie. The deep shade of it pops against the pale of her complexion. Suits the drama of her dark, smoked-out eyeshadow.

He’s right, of course. This is meant to be a celebration. She can’t help, however, feeling as though she put in the hard work, but it’s Marie who’s being celebrated at the moment. It will pass. Or it won’t. Regardless, before she steps beyond the velvet curtain that separates their box from the landing at the top of the stairs, she’ll be wearing that smile the situation demands of her. And her time in the spotlight is yet coming this evening. Pride only hopes that she isn’t judged against d’Sarthe’s performance and found wanting.

For now, however, with her back to the audience such as it is, she’s far more candid. Ice blue eyes half lid in a dead stare ahead of her at nothing in particular as she brings her drink to her lips. The shape of it obscures the movements of her mouth as she mutters against the rim in a low voice, dripping with her particular brand of defensive venom. “I’d rather fuck myself with a rusty railroad spike.” Than go down there.

Ourania tips back her drink, this time to drain it. “But,” she sighs with just the right amount of melodramatic exasperation, voice lifted to a more conversational level now, “my glass appears to be broken, so I suppose we may as well go fix that.” Turning her head so she can regard Harry from the corner of her eye, she requests of him, “Fetch my cane, won’t you, darling?” It’s where she left it, propped against the bench at her piano.

Ourania's following of Gideon between his meetings shows a divisive nature, save for if he seeks them first. If he forces himself to divide from an engagement, it is clear cut. Those ones he seeks act like bait. The aura of his socializing is akin to a shark on a reef. Largely innocent. Yet, when hungry —

He does bite, just enough to taste. "— those notions are ones you keep to yourself." It's a low-toned warning, in the midst of a discussion with a top-floor guest; unafraid to call his patrons out on behavior, perhaps a dream of a boss to those who need it. Hands free of a drink, d'Sarthe's hands link casually at his back, blue eyes staring through the woman he's taken offense to.

He doesn't have the energy to micromanage; but being meant to catch an off-color comment, he can step that right into the ground on his way through.

"Take fifteen, amie." Gideon d'Sarthe dismisses a willowy server, clutching a wooden tray to themselves, from their vicinity; their features still quaver in the shadow of a rebuke — and the subsequent whiplash of watching Mister d'Sarthe rip into the one at fault. They can't get out of there fast enough, only sparing a small look back to see a mutual dispersal and Gideon moving on through his territory in plain sight.

Harry's attempt to cajole Ourania into a better mood having fallen flat, her own mask off in this scene mise en off, sees to it his own slips. Ace is left behind, visible in the thinning of his lips, the darkening of his eyes. "That's enough of that. This isn't the moment to whine, this is your time to shine. Smile, and take it."

The sound of Gideon down the hall from them lessens the intensity of his stare upon her by precisely zero. His eyes don't move even to the piano when requested.

"Tonight, it's more appropriate you look your best," Ace informs Ourania coolly. Then he offers her a gentlemanly arm to guide her by.

There won't be any question tonight whose affections she belongs to, it seems.

Finding Ace in place of Harry leaves Ourania to be Odessa, startled and suddenly feeling very, very small. She shrinks back, but in a way that solely happens behind her eyes in the look that passes from her to him. Her posture remains tall and proud. Her eyes close, and she steels herself against the icy sensation of being a disappointment, like cold water injected into her veins and working its way through her entire circulatory system. Whether he intended to inspire this feeling in her or not, it’s her own fear of inadequacy, of being not good enough, that fosters it and encourages it to grow.

The notion of calling the necessity of her mobility aid into question — inferring that it makes her lesser somehow, that it diminishes her and makes her less desirable not just to him, but to anyone who might look upon her — is internalized, even if that notion is more hers than his. One that her insecure mind is willing to seize upon given the slightest provocation. Not lost on her is also the fact that foregoing the polished mahogany walking stick will make her reliant on him the moment they leave this space and its convenient leans that have allowed her to make do without it thus far. The problem is that she believes there’s some truth in his assertion, that she won’t be presenting her best face if she doesn’t follow his instruction. She’s seen the looks of pity, been told even by people who care for her that she’s too young and too pretty to be hobbled as she is.

But it’s a kindness that he offers to be the one she leans on instead, isn’t it? That he shall be her support, allowing her to put forward her best face.

Smile and take it, he says.

It’s exactly what she does.

Blue eyes open again, and it’s the mask of Ourania back firmly into place. Her posture softens, her expression softens. “Of course, my love,” she says sweetly, agreeably as she takes his offered arm. “You’re completely right. Thank you for reminding me.” She leans up the barest bit required to press a kiss to her partner’s cheek. “Let’s go devastate everyone with how amazing we look and the knowledge that they can’t even begin to compete.”

When in doubt, fall back on the ego. Arm in arm, they make the descent from the VIP level to the main floor to mix and mingle properly.

At the stage — the second throne, as it were — Marie gives a calm wrap to her performance, rather than basking in the attention for longer than she sees necessary. Last words and last glances from the platform are seperate; thank-yous set apart from the drift of her eyes to find Ourania and Ace from below. She leaves the stage to the band now, a last gratitude given into the mic before she slips back out of sight to re-emerge on the floor.

With a half-formed purpose, Ms. d'Sarthe carefully picks her way into Agent Roux's wake, a weightless shadowing.

Hardly unobtrusive in a metallic pantsuit of deep, burnished gold and stilettos to match, a tall blond woman approaches the bar on the first floor — no VIP here. At least not yet. There’s a certain cockiness to her posture paired with an air of haughtiness in her eyes as she looks around. Still, what she sees seems to please her, her gold-green gaze lingering here and there. A nod of appreciation is given to the end of Marie d’Sarthe’s performance, but she turns her attention to the bartender rather than add her applause to those given to the singer.

“A vieux carré, please,” she says, the French lyrical and fluent. As she waits for her drink, she runs a hand over the pompadoured crown of her long hair; the sides are slicked back in faux-hawk style, before cascading in a softer texture down her back. “I never thought I’d see the day when Staten Island could be considered classy,” she asides — to the bartender or her fellow patrons at the bar, it’s unclear. “How strange post-war America is.”

What did you do after returning from overseas and you had almost no friends and were maybe avoiding your employers?

You went to a fancy event with the likes that she was very used to consorting with. Velvet was the name for the evening, black velvet shorts, thigh high socks of the same material and color. Her crop top also a deep shade of black but the long white jacket that hangs at the back of her knees is an eye popping white that matches her equally shockingly stock of white hair, sides freshly shaved.

If you knew the name Tibby Naidu then you would know her father Baruti Naidu was one of the most wanted men in the world right now but most if not all of the people on Staten Island even before the recent… makeover knew this tiny light skinned woman as Elia.

And Elia hadn't been seen in months.

Striding into the lounge with slow, measured steps in no hurry but obviously angling towards the bar. Emerald green eyes set dead ahead of her in a lazy, bored stare. The white lines of scars around her eyes are obvious when she gets closer to the bar and the patrons. This was Gideon's place and Tibby had no fear of kings. The HUD reveals the various doorways and windows, possible exits through a blue lighting. The scanner slides over the various people, heat signatures ranging in a myriad of colors.


There wasn't any new mission data, no further communication with her handler who had gone dark, but her most recent communications overseas left her wanting a dose of the familiar and not home.

New York would do nicely, for now.

"Whiskey. Neat." Her accent is strange, a mix of two different places, but her tone is blunt, harsh. The French turns her ear and her head follows. "Tu ne pouvais pas imaginer."1 Her accent is impeccable, "Just how strange." To the woman near her.

There are those that Gideon avoids on his venture back towards the balcony nearest his booth; the unvocalized and unactionable snubbings are a sweep of whether or not he feels certain patrons are welcome— despite their having paid for the top-level experience, drinks, company.

Everyone would like an eye; Mr. d'Sarthe is a man of hyperfocus, however, and the few people he has to man his VIP area for security are all quite aware of when to lead people away. The duration of Gideon's survey is one such time. One hand rests on the balcony wall, the other holding a glass at his side, cradled in his fingertips with the rim's edge against his palm. Guarded at best, insofar as his indulging.

His eyes follow the familiar frame of his daughter in the party below, skipping briefly towards Marie's destination before turning away; again he skims the party for a particular sight— Ourania and Ace certainly make a pair, descending arm in arm.

Gideon releases the rail to smooth a hand down over silver beard, tongue moving over the inside of cheek as he moves to retake his booth.

Ace is in the process of redonning the mask of Harry as he and Ourania hit the main floor again, his head lifting in hello to a familiar patron as they move past. He provides a stately arm for his partner, poised and well-paired in color with her. He smiles, it seeming a general thing until he looks to Ourania.

The stage, yet? Or would he let it simmer a moment longer after Marie's opener before she claimed her spot?

Catching Harry’s eye, Ourania gives a small shake of her head. The guests need more time to mix and mingle to background music, rather than have their attention captured by another performance just yet.

If anything, she needs that refreshed drink first.

"Madame Roux?" Not 'Agent', blessedly, is what reaches Robyn's ears as she explores her way deeper into the club. It's not a voice she knows, feminine and low, soft around the edges— Marie d'Sarthe doesn't go as far as physically stopping her, instead gracefully falling in line with whatever pace Robyn has set for herself, green eyes dark in the light, smile like those softened edges of her voice. While her accent has been diluted some by worldliness, it's certainly a native French. "The grapevine's been murmuring about you. Some interesting movement in Bay Ridge, or so I've heard." Money talks, but so does the arts scene. Clarification doesn't come, yet a casually lifted hand does, easy and polite. "Marie."

The plan had been to rendezvous Ourania, wish her well in her performance, and find a booth to sit and enjoy the rest of the night. Somewhere dark and out of the way, where eyes might not spot her hanging around at a club owned by an (alleged) mobster. For once, Robyn wasn't out to be seen.

That plan is very quickly out the window.

The Madame earns a quirk of Robyn's eyebrow - she's been outed, but by a very unfamiliar voice with a very familiar accent. Her pace slows as Marie moves into view next to her, coming to a slow stop after another few steps. With a grin, she turns to face the woman with a half cocked grin across her face.

She may know Gideon d'Sarthe by reputation, but she wouldn't know his daughter from a stranger on the street, and arriving late does her no favours on that front. Ourania is quickly forgotten, the previous songstress now the sole focus of her attention.

And what a focus it is.

"Marie," she repeats, letting it roll in her own diluted accent, still harboring a twinge of the irish heritage she has never been able to shake. "Enchanté, m'am." said with a flourish and an offering of her clawed hand, palm up. "I see Kaleidoscope precedes me here. I'm glad to hear that word is getting around, though." A glance is given over to the stage, a smile to Ourania and her- person, and then back to Marie.

"I shouldn't be surprised you'd heard, I guess. After hearing you up there, I'm rather ashamed I got here as late as I did."

Harry regards the smile Madame Roux gives he and Ourania with another polite shift of his head as they take their place at the bar. He rests a hand against its ledge to indicate his intent to station at it rather than taking a seat, a polite enough distance away an avoidance of comingling could be forgiven, but close enough one could eavesdrop.

For better or for worse, in Ourania's case.

When the bartender circles to them, he takes his partner's empty glass and offers it across the bartop to exchange it for a replacement. "Midori Sour, and a Stella, if you don't mind." The polite request passed on, he keeps his ears open, but turns his back to the bar to see how the rest of the house is faring.

While Harry stands sentinel, Ourania takes her seat — she has one reserved for a reason, after all — and flashes a smile to the bartender. She swivels her chair around so she can take in the same view as her partner, though her gaze settles quickly on where Robyn is speaking with Marie. That’s certainly something. She supposes she can hardly blame her invited guest for getting wrapped up in that particular orbit.

When their drinks arrive, which is always faster for them than anyone else who might stroll up — save the d’Sarthes — Ourania turns back in her seat to take her cocktail and pass Harry his beer so he doesn’t have to disrupt his survey.

It’s on the turn back that she spots Elia. Ourania hides a look of mild surprise behind her glass as she takes a sip. That’s a face she hadn’t expected to see. She was beginning to think she’d gotten swept up in the mess with the Ghost Triads.

The woman in gold turns at Tibby’s comment and she laughs merrily. “Oh, I can imagine many things, but that was not one of them,” she says, glittering green eyes moving up and down over Tibby’s — Elia’s — unique appearance, before roaming to where the others coalesce into a little group.

She lifts a brow but returns her attention to the pale thing beside her. “I have a feeling it’s not as refined as the decor would have us to believe, entre vous et moi,” she says, her voice not quite soft enough for it to truly be between the two of them. “But the interesting things in life usually aren’t, am I right?”

Offering her hand, she adds, “Gabriella. Et tu es?

There is, no doubt, someone at the door checking who's arriving at the club, all the better to inform the owner of anyone of note making an appearance.

That makes it all the more unusual that nobody seems to have noticed just when Richard Ray showed up in the midst of the celebration.

The executive hasn't made any attempt at hiding his identity; he's wearing an immaculate suit in deep blue with a blue pinstripe tie, a crisp white shirt beneath with the collar down; clean-shaven, a recent hair cut, looking one hundred percent the park. He's acquired a drink and is meandering through the crowd with it, casually drawing closer to the VIP area without making a bee-line towards it.

"Rough edges can be beautiful," Someone had said that to her once. Emerald green eyes watch the hand extend and she offers her own, shaking lightly and with a nod. "Tibby." A gentle sip of her drink as she eyes the crowd casually, "New to town?" She had become better or, relearned how to be social. How to be less… rigid and wound up. Her shoulders are relaxed and index finger lightly drag around the rim of her glass.

A blip in her vision draws her eye to a man grabbing a drink at the bar. Immediately her posture stiffens as her HUD centers on Richard, old data files from Crito and her old assignment clutter her vision and she blinks a couple times.


Kaylee's brother and someone who had a murky history with her father. As he leaves the bar with his drink and begins to wander through the crowd the small blonde nudges Gabriella and nods towards the CEO before calling out in her weird accent and clipped tone, loud enough for Richard and others nearby: "Is that the Richard Ray?"

Green eyes slant towards the man and she waves softly. Head tilts to the side, assessing him with more than the naked eye.

Robyn's turn of focus to her has Marie resting at her conservational distance with a calm smile, hands met in greeting. One bark brow raises at the response she gets, apparently pleased.

"I've been watching the scene. I'd be remiss to not pick up the talk about a studio," Marie's hands fold in front of her, "Especially with someone like you attached." Compliments aside, the brunette turns her head with a dangle of earring, eyes resting on the stage from afar, and in turn her gaze finds Ourania, and Ace. A more subdued sort of coyness is there when Marie's closed smile angles back to Robyn. "I'm second string, I'm afraid, as much as I enjoy myself up there. I used to be more about the stage, now I tend to manage them."

"May I get you a drink?" Marie lifts a slim hand to one of the waiting staff to summon them over.

Elsewhere on the lounge floor, Elia's non-mumuring to Gabriella does catch an ear of another nearby; it will only take so long before it makes its way to the VIP booths and the man Richard hasn't seen in person for years on years. Both of them have changed since then, but the lookout hasn't.

Robyn blinks as she's offered a drink, head canting slightly to the side even as her smile genuinely widens, serving as a momentarily bright contrast to her otherwise dark presentation. "I'd be honoured." Metal clad fingers wrap around her cane as she looks to the wait staff, and then back to Marie.

"There's no such thing as second string. Talent is talent, and I'm pretty confident in what I heard." She quirks an eyebrow to match Marie's, one hand moving to her hip as she chuckles. "We have that in common, you know. I used to thirst for the stage." Her eyes drift over to Ourania, and then back to Marie. "Now, well." She motions in front of her with one hand. "The studio."

Her eye flits back to the stage for a moment, her smile wavering. "Though lately I've been reconsidering that." She breezes past that quickly, taking a sip of the drink when it reaches her. "Is that what brings you into my orbit, Marie?" There's almost a hopeful tone in her voice, letting her eyes meet Marie's, smiling broadly once more. "I'd be glad to have you at the studio sometime."

The bell-shaped glass that makes its way into Harry's hand is received with a murmur of something like thanks, sipped from to make it easier to roam with if the mood strikes him, though he stays in place for now. His eyes half-lid in idle interest, finding one face or another to stand out.

And so does the self-described Tibby down the bar.

"Oh look," Harry offers in an unenthusiastic murmur for his partner's sake. He lifts a finger off his glass to gesture in the direction of the object of interest, his visible demeanor much more polite than his undertone. "Your other employer's decided to make an appearance." The next sip from his glass is healthier, made with the thought he might have to abandon it entirely for conversation shortly. He looks to Ourania at his side with a quirk of both brows. Had she been expecting this?

Her cue will help him decide if this is a what a surprise or a good to see you again type of scenario.

“Oh excellent,” Ourania responds flatly, matching her partner for enthusiasm for this turn of events. She wants to believe Richard is here to support her, but she knows better. Had that been the case, he’d have come to find her by now. In spite of or especially because of her proximity to Harry, to whom she offers a brief shake of her head. No, she had not been expecting to see Richard here. Not after their conversation about what he saw on the security footage from Raytech’s parking lot last week.

Tipping her head back slightly, but not turning in the other women’s direction, Ourania murmurs some context to her partner. “That one used to work for Alister Black.” The Trade Commission. “Might want to suggest someone keep an eye on Miss Velvet there. Not that I suspect the Commission is truly audacious enough to do more than circle and sniff about.” She takes a sip of her viridian cocktail. “Don’t recognize the one she’s chatting with.” For what that’s worth.

Ourania sighs and angles a look up to Harry. “Do you want me to go intercept him?” She shifts back to the potential problem propounded by Richard’s presence. “I was going to take the stage, but it can wait. They’ve plenty of material to work with.” Her number can slot in anywhere. Her partner is kept in her periphery, awaiting her marching orders.

“That’s a cute name,” Gabriella says with a smile. “Some people call me Gabby, so together we sound like a pair of 1960 teen sleuths in a knock-off Nancy Drew novel, don’t we?” She brings the glass of amber liquid to her lips to take a sip, before her green eyes follow Tibby’s to Richard Ray.

“Looks like. I haven’t met him in person. His PR folks might want to tell him Staten, no matter how dressed up, is still a bit questionable,” she murmurs, watching the man for a moment, and then those in the vicinity who also notice his arrival.

She returns to the question asked. “Yes and no. I have a lot of towns, so to speak — or apartments in a lot of cities. I haven’t been to New York for quite a while, but fate decided to throw me here, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for fate.”

Richard doesn’t seem to notice the attention aimed his way - or, more likely, expects it - from various parties once he’s begun making his way through the club. He’s clearly got a goal in mind, and that would be the man that he hasn’t seen in many years…

But a motion in his direction does catch his attention, his gaze briefly falling upon Tibby and pausing his steps. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as if in recognition and thought, but he doesn’t move in her direction.

The pause does provide an opportunity for someone to intercept him, if any care to.

Marie's smile is just coy enough to play at her words, and she cradles her own drink after she dismisses the staff. As for orbits… "That and some other things." The hues of her eyes have their own life to them, quick to dance over the minutiae of Robyn's interaction. "The studio is just a stage fit for one. Or two."

Hope meets the listing of expectation; Marie's demeanor is earnest, despite her jagged line between business and pleasure. "I'd be honored." Earnest enough to parrot the other woman's words before a sip from her glass.

Harry shakes his head idly to Ourania at his side. "No," he offers with a solid flatness to his voice. "No, I don't think that will be necessary." He lifts his drink, eyes on other players in motion across the floor.

“As you say,” Ourania murmurs, hiding her disagreement behind a casual tone and her drink.

"Mister Ray?" And there it is, the intercept, just in time to keep Richard from deciding whether or not he wants to hit the bar before any more exploration. His attention is tugged by a young asian woman in a simple blue shift, her hair pulled back into an immaculate bun. Both hands are folded in front of her, a distinct stillness and lack of fussing or fidgeting. The poise and her rounder features give nothing but professionalism. How she found him so quickly — skill and maybe a little bird.

"You've been invited to the VIP booths," Of course. Dark eyes move from Richard to the upper floor's visible edge. "If you're so inclined?"

Swallowing his drink, Harry gestures outwardly with his bell-curved glass, turning to the woman at his side. "See?" he purrs to her. "This problem's already solved itself."

He leans closer to her, pressing a kiss to her temple. "Now go show everyone whose stage that is," he murmurs into her ear, smiling pleasantly as he stands upright again. "I'll be here."

Whether or not this is an improvement on the situation remains to be seen from where Ourania’s sitting. Her instinct is to get to her feet and attempt to put a stop to what Ms Mun is putting into motion, but she forces herself to draw in a deep breath through her nose and let it out through her mouth. Just like calming backstage jitters. She thinks they’ll both regret not letting her distract Richard, but this is a decision she’ll let her partner make. And live with.

And besides, he’s just brightened her evening with his words anyway. Would she be put to better use running interference? Certainly. But how can she pass up the chance to shine so brightly? A pleased smile curls her lips and only grows as she turns to look up at him. “Watch my drink then,” she bids him, setting the tumbler down on the bar near his elbow before pushing up from her seat. She counts the steps in her mind from the bar to the stage. Doable.

Ourania times her approach in the last four measures of the current tune, giving the bassist ample time to note her, and meet her at the stairs to the stage after the final notes. He gives her his arm and she’s able to make her way up those few steps easily enough. From there, she’s not escorted to her piano at the edge of the stage, but to its focal point in front. And a spotlight.

Smiling demurely in the face of welcoming applause, she bows her head in acknowledgement. Jaunty notes on the piano cue her to lift her head.

Once upon a time I had plenty of nothing, which was fine with me
Because I had rhythm, music, love, the sun, the stars and the moon above
Had the clear blue sky and the deep blue sea
That was when the best things in life were free

On the stage, the woman who walks so gingerly comes to life. Even those who’ve come to spend time at the establishment before this grand event have always seen the songstress behind her piano exclusively. But under the glow of the lights on center stage, her movements are lively and fluid even as she stands in one place. She doesn’t dance, precisely, but her left hand gestures for rhythm, her right for music, and a wink is flashed in the direction of the bar for love. This is her moment.

Then time went by and now I got plenty of plenty, which is fine with me
'Cause I still got love, I still got rhythm, but look at what I got to go with 'em
"Who could ask for anything more?" I hear you query
Who could ask for anything more? Well, let me tell you, dearie

The tempo slows, a brief pause held before the promised melodic explanation.

"Magnifique." While Robyn keeps her voice, the enthusiasm shows clearly in the smile she flashes at Marie. Mirroring the other woman in turn as she takes a sip from her drink, Robyn's shoulders finally seem to relax a bit. "A stage for one sounds loney," she notes, taking a moment to watch and appreciate when Ourania starts to sing.

But, while she may be here to see Ourania Pride perform, the proverbial show has been stolen for at least the moment, Robyn looking back to Marie with a raised eyebrow. "Would you like to find a place to sit? The only person I know here tonight is up on stage, anyway. It'd be nice not to drink alone."

While Ourania takes the stage, Marie's softly lidded gaze remains on her, ears still tuned to Robyn at her side. Drink held close to her frame, the look is a mixture of pleased, assessing.

"You know Ms. Pride? Interesting." said without devilishness, followed by a renewed assessment of Robyn. "I know just the place." There it is, that little touch of impish as Marie beckons Robyn to stay at her side. Ourania, from the stage, can glimpse the two making way to a table set a row back from the stage, not too far, not too close, partly in shadow so as to give them full view of the performance without the distraction of lights.

"Make yourself comfortable, non?" Notably, this particular table's centerpiece is tagged with a note of reservation; either Marie is bold enough to take the space, or she truly belongs there. Given her charming, hostessing little smile… perhaps answer enough.

Ah, there it is. Richard's attention is drawn away from Tibby towards the young woman that's come over to him, a broad smile carving its way across his expression at her words. "Oh, but of course," he allows affably, as if the invitation was no surprise at all - lifting his arm and offering it to her for escort in a playful but expectant manner.

Got my diamonds, got my yacht, got a guy I adore
I'm so happy with what I got, I want more!

The sound of the singer's voice rises in the air as he does so, and the smile falters a bit - his head turning to look towards the stage, and he draws in a breath before returning that full smile to the woman, moving to continue towards the VIP area with an unhurried step.

For all the retained warmth Richard seems to have, Ms. Mun seems just a touch apprehensive before she takes the offered arm. She knows who to please, and it isn't Richard Ray — but entertaining him is doable enough. Truly, she simply doesn't know much of his personality to trust it.

She has a job, however, and does it amicably; Richard is dutifully escorted upstairs with the shorter woman by his side, and for her part briefly does look down towards the stage and the songstress as they arrive at the landing.

Count your blessings, one, two, three! I just hate keeping score
Any number is fine with me as long as it's more
As long as it's more!

It's been a long time. That leonine manner is the same; though these days, the mane is more salt and refined gray, beard trimmed with an articulate hand. Gideon d'Sarthe's private booth overlooks the stage, yet sits just far enough back to feel that comfortable privacy. The security is typical, though interspersed; nothing that Mr. Ray hasn't seen before. At least one seems passingly familiar in the shapes of frame and face, though there is not time to dwell on it. Seems he still keeps his chosen close, at least. Mun doesn't release Richard's arm until they are within acceptable distance of the booth, and the man perched inside of it.

"Thank you, my dear." One hand takes up Ms. Mun's in a brief gesture of care, as Gideon arches his brow and allows his gaze to pass over Richard on the way to the VIP bar, a small thing. "Go have yourself a drink, you deserve the evening." It almost seems as if she is willing to argue against it — but thinks better of herself and gives her boss a tiny smile and a murmured thanks.

I'm no mathematician, all I know is addition
I find counting a bore
Keep the number mounting, your accountant does the counting

"Now…" Here is where Richard's moments of patience pay off, the familiar blue of Gideon's eyes still as sharp as it ever was. Perhaps a touch more, after so long. Suit jacket aside, the remnants are a deep blue shirt and tie, the latter threaded with a metallic pyrite sheen; as he stands to greet Richard, even his frame appears the same as it once did, hands still strong as he casually extends one with a wolfish little smile. "…You've come quite the way, haven't you, Richard?"

"Well traveled. I could say the same, maybe we've been in the same places," Tibby smiles at Richard in a way that doesn't convey malice or pleasure at seeing him as she replies to Gabby. That was enough of an introduction for Tibby as she takes another sip of her drink and focuses on the other woman.

I got rhythm, music too, just as much as before
Got my guy and my sky of blue. Now, however, I own the view
More is better than nothing, true, but nothing's better than more, more, more
Nothing's better than more

"Fate can fuck itself, no use for it here." Her tone is bitter as she reflects on how she would rather lean on her skills and the skills of another to reunite she and her father over some mystical source. "But I suppose "fate" did introduce us." A grin crosses her lips and then it's flatten to a line again.

"Lovers of fate are usually some sort of precognitive, seer, oracles." Tibby leans over and nudges Gabriella's shoulder with her hand. "So do you read palms, then?"

One is fun, why not two? And if you like two, you might as well have four
And if you like four, why not a few, why not a slew
More! More!

"One doesn't have to have the genetics to fuck with it in order to be enchanted by fate," a voice from behind Tibby chides. Harry received Ourania's wink with a smile, and buoyed by it, opted to float on and join other conversations. "Being in tune with that is the luxury of the one percent of the one percent… but you don't need to be in tune with it to appreciate it. Wonder and respect for the will of the stars isn't exclusive to just the Expressive."

His smile turns to Tibby in particular rather than airing reassurances more in Gabby's direction. "Pleasure to see you again. And in a much better setting this time."

If you've got a little, why not a lot? Add and bit and it'll get to be an oodle
Every jot and tittle adds to the pot, soon you've got the kit as well as the caboodle

Offering the hand not cradling his glass out to Gabriella, he smoothly transitions back to her. "Harry Stoltz, I don't think we've had the pleasure. How are you enjoying Rossignol?"

Harry’s words puts a pause on Gabriella’s answer to Tibby, and she raises her brows, then takes the offered hand with a small dip of her chin.

“Hello, Harry Stoltz. Gabriella Milos,” she says. “Or Gabby to pair with my friend Tibby when we’re sleuthing out crimes in our miniskirts and convertible.”

She takes a sip of her drink, green eyes sliding to the stage to watch Ourania for a moment, before responding to the question he and Tibby have asked.

Never say when, never stop at plenty – if it's gonna rain, let it pour
Happy with ten, happier with twenty! If you like a penny, wouldn't you like many much more?

“It’s lovely, though it feels a little like a veneer where you know what’s under the surface isn’t as polished as it seems on top,” she says, before turning to Tibby.

“Not a palm reader, no, though I can read the tarot — or any deck of cards. Superstition, mostly. Being Greek, there’s too much sacrifice involved to be a true Seer, and I certainly don’t have the gene for it.” The last is said emphatically.

Or does that sound too greedy? That's not greed, no, indeedy
That's just stocking the store! Gotta fill your cupboard, remember Mother Hubbard

"Oh, I wouldn't say it's that far. We own a food repository just a few blocks away from here, I was stopping in to check on them and I heard someone mention your grand opening— " Richard smiles broadly enough to match Gideon's own, reaching out with both to shake and cover his briefly, "— so I just couldn't help but stop by."

The likelihood that a CEO would be visiting a food bank and just happen to be dressed in evening finery seems to be fairly slim, really, but who knows? He's an eccentric sort for a multimillionaire.

"I must have missed the invitation in the mail, after all - if I knew you were coming to my city, I'd have made sure to be here early." His smile unwavering. His gaze sharp as a knife.

Gideon gives Richard a look that can only be described as that of fleeting exasperation, brief and almost companionable.

"Upwards, Richard." For all of that, he still laughs softly through his nose, passably entertained by the — possibly — purposeful obtuseness, and his own words to come after. "It's not so much my opening as it is hers." One hand turns out towards the stage down below, an easy gesture. "And Marie does live for the scene. Turns out I'm only the secondary bank account, imagine that."

The same hand he uses to indicate the headlining songstress sweeps into a beckoning for Richard towards the booth. "You know full well how long I've been in town — I'm surprised that I haven't had the pleasure sooner, but I suppose we are both busy men.

"Please, have a seat - maybe a drink?" Both of d'Sarthe's brows lift in time with the offer, manners dictating that he remains on his feet until his guest takes a space.

Each possession you possess helps your spirits to soar

For as long as Ourania can reliably remember, she’s been pulling at threads. Intangible things that, when manipulated, have profound effects. The strings she commands now with the fluid movements of her hands out in front of her, wrapping them around her fingers and to tug toward her, aren’t so dissimilar.

That's what's soothing about excess

Only now, instead of arresting the threads of time’s exonerable pull, these strings lead to people’s hearts.

Never settle for something less

The audience adores her. She doesn’t need to have her ability active to know that. And she loves them for their adoration. It shows in her brilliant smile and the flash of light in her eyes. Even Harry’s attention on another woman can’t dampen her spirit now.

Something's better than nothing, yes!

The singer throws her hands up in the air on the exclamation, tossing her blonde hair in the process. Basking in the glow of this attention, she can almost forget the way her body protests the period of time spent on her feet without support.

But nothing's better than more, more, more

It certainly doesn’t show in the jubilant way she crows the lyrics, though her expression suddenly shifts from one less exhilarated to one more somber. Now her fingers curl around the back of the shining chrome microphone, staring out at the audience with a look that almost speaks of a deep emotional pain. Her gaze drifts to one side as though she has to take a moment to gather herself while the piano plays on behind her.

"We…" Robyn has to pause for a moment, her brow stitching together as she considers her answer. She knows very well she can't just share that she's a liaison for SESA at Raytech, quickly she settles on something else. "We were introduced by a mutual friend." Her eyes scan the crowd, finally landing on Richard as he's led off. "Who happens to be here tonight."

A beat.


Robyn blinks, staying as close to in lockstep with Marie as she can, an eye quirking up as she comes up on the clearly reserved table. But, of course Marie has a reserved table, given that she's a singer here. Angling a mischievous smile at Marie, she slides into a seat, relaxing a bit more than she expects to.

Her eyes only stay on the stage for a moment before she leans forward, smiling at Marie. "So, do you sing here regularly?"

Robyn's adopted aura of the moment is mirrored in kind; Marie allows a server to take down their requests before she deigns to answer.

"Regularly? Oh, not as much as I would like… my dayjob is more… ah, bureaucratic." Marie hasn't let the admission dampen her smile, wide yet sedate. Her posture and eyes take on qualities of the latter as well, a primness one might associate with boarding school etiquette. "Once upon a time I headlined—" An assessing glance towards Ourania on her stage garners a spark of admiration for her performance.

Marie leans an elbow on the edge of the table between them, lips bowed in silent amusement. "Now I just help in managing a club or two… and that keeps me sated."

"Of course, I'd love a drink - and I was waiting to see if you'd call on me, of course, Gideon. Truly, I'm somewhat hurt that such a friend wouldn't even give me a word when they were coming to my city…" Richard steps over to slide into the booth across from the other man, leaning back comfortably and draping one arm over the back of the seats, the other remaining in his lap. He clicks his tongue, "Not that Mister Redd's… antics haven't been amusing to keep track of, of course."

"As for moving up… well, did you ever question? As I recall, the last time we spoke you said we'd be peers, never rivals, to quote yourself— and well, I could hardly be a peer without an empire of my own, after all." A flash of a grin, and then he lets his attention drift to the stage.

"Ah, the inestimable Doctor Pride… I take it yours is the hand that takes up the other half of her time, then? She does sing like a nightingale, doesn't she?"

It's been years, so things tend to escape over time; Gideon's attention spikes just a touch at Richard's quoting him from what feels like aeons ago. All he has to go on is the other man's word— and he has no reason to be creating the notion out of thin air.

Settling comfortably once more into his booth, d'Sarthe rests one arm up where he can rest his jaw, the other rapping knuckles faintly against the polished tabletop.

"My hand? In a manner of speaking." Answering with a low rumble, tongue pressed against a canine. "She does, she does." Gideon turns his survey of Richard Ray to the lights of the stage, sapphire eyes darkened by the shade of the booth. "I would be remiss to forget that sharp little beak, though. Ourania is certainly talented across the board, hm…?"

"Shame," To Gabriella's admission that she didn't read palms but the tarot, "We do similar things back home, not for fun though. Bibi has always been very… superstitious. You don't contact the other side unless you have a true need." Divulging this much about herself has the platinum blonde woman pausing and taking a sip from her drink.

Back at the bar, Tibby turns her head at the sound of a man's voice and her expression stays pleasantly neutral as she registers Harry, the man from the bar a while ago. "If you had seen the last place we were together you wouldn't say that." To Gabby and she snorts at the thought. "You all have cleaned this place up well," Not just the building, but the area surrounding it. Her gaze doesn't drift from the man she stands casually next to Gabby and allows her optical implant to scan over the tall man's form. The blue screen illuminates his face more and she ignores the various: ?? and NA blaring on the side of her vision.

It only reminded of her true need. Maybe consulting the cards wasn't such a bad idea.

Diving deeper into the musings of the nature of fate makes the small woman wrinkle her nose and shrug, "Fate brought us together then, partners in crime and a mysterious friend of the reigning family." A grin at the sound of the convertible, "I surely hope you have one outside to drive me around in." To Gabby while Tibby reaffirms her grip on her glass.

"If you're concerned what's under the hood," pardon the car pun, "I'd be happy to show you backstage. I assure you this isn't paint over rust." Harry cants his head to the side amiably as he looks between the two, wondering at their partner in crime status. Milos wasn't familiar to him, but he's admittedly been occupied this last half-year. He looks over to the stage after. "But any tour will have to wait until the end of the opening. I'm fond of this one."

There's other conversation to be had in the meantime, of course. "Though between you ladies and I, with your exquisite taste, you may want to pass on the Flying Fish in Red Hook." A twist of a small rueful smile plays over him before he sips his beer. "While it cleans up in the evening plenty well, it certainly doesn't have the same 24/7 charm a place like Rossignol does."

With a return of his smile, this one more pleasant, he lifts his drink to Tibby. "Thank you for your kind words." Never mind that he'd been fishing for precisely that kind of validation. "We've faced certain challenges, to be sure, but nothing that couldn't be overcome." Harry looks away to the occupied box, lifting his glass just a little higher like he can silently pass on the thanks up to the establishment's owner.

Or acknowledge the other set of eyes peering down.

“Oh, most people are very superstitious about it, but I’m not,” Gabriella tells Tibby. “If I had the ability to truly see the nature of things in a stack of cards, I would be much, much happier than I am most days. As for my convertible, it’s a little chilly for such things, but I do enjoy the top down when the weather allows for it.”

She then tips her head at the offer from Harry to give them a tour. “Well, I was speaking more metaphorically. Not about the building itself — but I’m sure the backstage is just as lovely,” she says with a smile that suggests she doesn’t think that’s as likely.

“And what do you do for Rossignol?” The French word is spoken with that native-level pronunciation, almost impossible to emulate if one hasn’t studied the language. “Will you sing for us next, Harry Stoltz?”

Except all, all, all

With only the piano to accompany, Ourania’s talent, the beauty of her voice truly shines through. The sostenuto reverberates through the space, one arm gracefully lifting from the back of the mic and extending out to her side until her wrist does a small flicking motion, where the notes on the piano bounce and leave silence, just as surely as if she’d touched the keys herself. All the practice and time spent getting to know each other, getting in sync, has paid wonderful dividends.

Except once you have it all

Her hand lowers, gaze cast down but not quite closing her eyes just yet. The audience is given this candid moment, this window to see her turmoil. It’s lonely at the top, that expression means to convey.

"You should," is murmured over the lip of a glass, a curious look angled at Marie as Robyn attempts to relax a bit more. "Sing more, that is." As if it were a question at this point. "Though I guess I shouldn't talk. Still, it's nice to find someone who feels like I do." Setting down her drink and crossing her arms, Robyn looks towards the stage for a moment.

"I'll have to bug you about which clubs, though, so I can drop in. There isn't enough good music, enough culture in this city anymore. That's something I'd really like to change, given the chance." Her smile widens a bit. It's clear it feels like she's found a bit of a kindred spirit, something Robyn feels she lacks in modern New York.

Threading a lock of blonde hair behind her ear, the powerful, somewhat callous looking woman that had walked in the door suddenly looks a touch more demure, a bit more at ease. "Or we could meet up for lunch and talk more music sometime. I'm always looking for collaborators."

Kindred spirits indeed. While motivations may be clouded, the front which Marie presents is an earnest one. She does regard music as something people need. Culture as something people need. Robyn's insights align with her own, and it shows in the private smile she gives.

"You're in one," kept low in volume, and significant in the weightlessness of it. Casual. The mixture of hues in Marie d'Sarthe's eyes make them dark in the light, her gaze laid on Robyn while leaning her chin on a hand. "Talking music with you would be a gift. Sounds like we could both use some inspiration."

The years have gone by, but Richard's always had a keen memory when it comes to dealings with people of… note. Information, after all, has always been his most powerful weapon. His lips tug up a bit in a wider smile, and then he turns fully as well to watch the stage where the nightingale is singing. "Oh, that she is. She's always been talented in so many, many ways." Ways which, one would think, d'Sarthe shouldn't be enlightened regarding. But he seems to be regardless.

Dark eyes sweep back to the other man, and he observes casually, "I take it that you're planning to move in where our— old acquaintances used to sit? Danny-boy's been gone for a long time, and now that our asian friends are gone…"

"The dregs are there." Gideon stays purposefully obtuse for a short time, listening to the performance rather than hurry to give Richard an answer. When he does, it is with a deep inhalation.

"Daniel got his." A sigh, "And the rest… they had no idea how to acclimate. Everything to them was the same old song and dance, you know?" One hand threads through silvered hair, blue eyes roaming back to Richard, studious. A grin flashes, shortlived though sharp. "Of course you know."

"I'm not a tenant, Richard. I'm the excavator."

On the floor below, by the bar, Harry lets out a warm chuckle. "Me, sing? Ms. Milos, there's a line of people better suited for that before my services would be needed. No, I'm much more of a— people person. Ensuring everyone has what they need for their performance, whether it's at the bar or up on stage. I help make the magic happen, but I've never been one for taking the stage myself."

His eyes swivel back to that stage that's not for him, head tilting as he watches his other, more expressive half in the midst of her performance.

"I'm the one who uncages the rossignol to let it sing," he muses. "And what a joy it is to watch it happen."

Turning back to the two women, he smiles wryly. "Now that you've had me waxing poetic, let me buy your next round. I'm sure that was a touch more than you signed up for this evening."

The smile on her face is very, very practiced. Hours of standing in front of the mirror, baring her teeth, jutting them outwards, smiling though it looked like she was a murderer. It had come down to a few basic notes for Tibby to follow.

1) The smile had to be half way done, too much teeth and you looked like you were ready to eat someone.
2) Tilting her head to the light of the room just right, draw more attention to her green eyes. A heavy lidded stare that doesn't outright say what she's thinking.
3) The eyebrows, lifting them just so….

All this equated to a gentle, easygoing smile that puts her at ease. She is tense though, holding it. Her shoulders twitch and she lifts her glass to drink again. "Backstage tours, sounds like we've stumbled across a rock concert, hm?" It insinuates that Tibby thinks Harry radiates an aura that could carry the mantle of leading man. It's flattery, and she's bored of it, but it's within her parameters to make nice with the local talent. Always has been.

She snorts at the comment on the convertible, "To Spain we go."

Tibby’s glass is clinked by Gabriella’s. “Barcelona is lovely this time of year,” the taller woman says, but her green-gold eyes narrow on Harry. “I’d say we should go, but Europe is so troublesome these days.”

She turns to Harry to smile at his offer. “That would be lovely. Thank you,” Gabriella says, taking another sip from her drink before canting her head slightly, looking from him to the stage and back.

“I do find it ironic you say you uncage the rossignol to sing — when the nightingale is a symbol of escape and freedom in Greek mythology. Were you aware? Poor Philomela and Procne, to survive the tyranny of Tereus and fly away as free birds, only to have another nightingale bound in a gilded cage. But,” she sets her empty glass on the bartop, “the poet Maya Angelou knows the truth — caged birds sing the most beautifully because they have suffering to sing about. And most poets — Greek and otherwise — see the nightingale’s song as a lament.”

Her eyes return to the stage. “If she were happy, would she sing so prettily?”

Harry's smile is pleasant still, even for a flicker visible surprise over Gabriella's well-informed commentary. "It was just a turn of phrase," he remarks with a chuckle, drinking again from his own glass. After, he looks back to the stage, to the woman baring her soul and bearing her pain.

"But no, I suppose we all sing more beautifully when we've suffered a little. That's the curse of every artist, isn't it?" Harry wonders wistfully.

"Only for the Expressives, something I no longer can claim to be." That is quite the thing for Tibby to be admitting and she guzzles more of her drink and quickly moves on. Green eyes on the stage.

"My, aren't we well read." Tibby sounds impressed and takes another drink, judging her new friend with her shoulder. "You're both right, about the pain. Art, it doesn't come from sunshine and roses." A saying she learned from a friend in Los Angeles.

Thankfully there is music and she can pretend or actually get lost in it. Allow her flub to fade.

"The world changes, and we must change with it, as the saying goes… no idea who said it originally, but it gets repeated often enough," Richard admits while lifting his drink and motioning with it casually through the air, liquor swirling around within the glass, "And it's true."

He takes a sip, then, lowering it to regard Gideon over the edge of the vessel, "Mm. I do hope that you aren't excavating the foundations of what I'm building here, Gideon. That would be unfortunate, and I do so prize our friendship."

With the atmosphere sinking in, what Richard says earns a snort and a spell of honest laughter with no problem.

"Oh, hell no, Richard." A small grunt of sound comes as Gideon adjusts the angle of his sit, more towards Richard now, drawing the exchange completely between them now, rather than the bubble of space the booth provides.

"Now, why would I go and do something like that? You know me a little better." Despite the bitterness in his words, d'Sarthe manages to curtail himself into a simple exasperated roll of his head. "In fact," his eyes re-orient onto Richard, the arm on the back of the couch lifting a hand, a finger, a small gesture to draw focus. "I admire the work Raytech does. I want your work to succeed. Your green initiatives? Outstanding."

"And your sense of community, now that." A friendly scoff precedes a swallow from his glass, a real enough smile plastered behind. "That's something else. Yamagato has a lovely footprint and provides, of course, but Raytech is a company from the common man. It was built, not inherited. Just like me and mine."

You may find all else above

Ourania’s gaze lifts, ostensibly to the high ceiling overhead, but it drifts to d’Sarthe’s box. She’s almost disappointed he’s not watching her now, so their eyes can meet and she can acknowledge him properly. But so it goes. He’s got good reason to be occupied.

"I'm glad to hear it." Richard's smile widens just a touch, and he tips his head a bit to the other man, "It's been a long time, Gideon, I just wanted to make sure there weren't going to be any… issues. You know how these things go, and I've never been one to be comfortable making assumptions."

He takes a sip of his drink again, noting, "I'm somewhat relieved, actually, that it's you here. Better than having to establish relations with some unknown— and the previous tenants, as it were, weren't exactly the sort to play ball. They were into… messy sorts of business."

"I get it." Gideon gives Richard a less harsh look. "Having to establish new relationships in instances like these… ugh." He masks with a scornful sound. "We both work too hard to have to do that." They will, if it comes to it, of course.

And though things are bliss

Her attention makes its way back to the main floor straying briefly to where her self-professed lusciniculturalist continues to regale the pair of blondes at the bar, then flits to her audience. Ourania places a hand over her heart, marron-painted lips forming a pout.

"A woman in my neighborhood, she lost her whole family. Robbery gone fucked, nobody knew how she could go on. My bibi said her grief opened something up inside of her." Tibby speaks softly as if in a trance to the two next to her.

"You could hear her from down the streets, her voice boomed, loomed over you. It was so broken… so beautiful. So big." The small woman's half lidded gaze is on the performer, watching for her pain. "Her songs were the most haunting, wretched, beautiful things I'd ever heard." Memories of Johannesburg and perching on a nearby rooftop. Listening to the old widow mourn in song.

There’s one thing you miss

Ice blue regard holds on the crowd, scanning with some sort of intent, as if searching for something to fill this lacuna. The search seems in vain. Her eyes close heavily.


Shoulders sag and she exhales audibly into the microphone to illustrate the weight of this missing piece.


There’s a moment of silence from both chanteuse and band, just long enough to take a deep breath. Her eyes snap open again in tandem with a quick up-and-down of brows and a grin that’s more a flash of fang than anything else.


The last note is belted con brio as the ensemble at her back joins in. The horns’ accompaniment adding a richness and depth to complement that singular resonating note. As it’s sustained, Ourania lifts one arm out to her side, slowly lifting it to raise above her head. The longer the moment stretches on, the more forte edges toward fortissimo. When her arm reaches the apex of its orbit, her wrist flicks, cuing an end to the music so all that’s left is her voice.

Rather than remain in the pure exchange with Richard Ray, Gideon d'Sarthe turns his eyes down towards the stage, watchful, and quick to lose whatever irritation sat on his shoulders while listening to the birdsong.

The glass in Richard Ray’s hand is raised up, and he proffers a toast just as that final note rises from the nightingale’s beak, his gaze steady and smile honest, "To self-made men, then, and to what they build."

""À ta santé." Gideon takes a moment to fix his gaze with Richard's and acknowledge the toast with a lift of his glass.

The diva continues on a cappella, head thrown back, leaving only the vibrato to carry over the quiet murmur of conversation. It feels as though this could be one of those stolen moments of time she used to command. A single second held in her palm to stretch on into eternity.

But all good things must come to an end, and this one goes out on the metaphorical high note when Ourania stops before she can entirely exhaust the reserve of air in her lungs, before her voice can crack and shift into vocal fry. Her head lolls forward as though it’s too heavy to hold up. Chest visibly rises and falls with the heavy breaths needing to replenish the oxygen she’s depleted.

It’s the applause that brings her back, lifting her head to offer a vibrant smile that conveys her sense of triumph for this performance having been a well-received success. “Thank you,” she demures into the microphone, stepping back and to one side so she can bow with a flourish that can be appreciated unobstructed. Then she turns and gestures to the talented troupe of musicians that allow her to be so dazzling, insisting tacitly that they too be shown the praise they deserve.

It’s when the bassist comes to collect her as always that she raises her arm in farewell, her smile fixed in place as she graciously accepts the offered arm. While her poise remains, the well-dressed man feels the way she leans heavier on him than usual.

The eponymous rossignol sings beautifully, yes, but she is suffering.

“Get me to the stairs, please.” The request is punctuated with a flicker of her gaze toward the staircase that will take her to the VIP box.

Harry be damned, Ourania is going to retrieve her cane.

With the end of the song, Harry sets aside what's left of his glass so he can applaud with the rest, a small, proud smile on him not just for the performance, but gladness how it was received. It evoked something in onlookers, and what better reaction could one hope for?

His muse meets his gaze as she hits the bottom of the stairs that lead to the stage. She tips her head in his direction, toward the bar more specifically, to indicate that he should stay where he’s at. Continue cultivating whatever seeds he’s trying to sow. Ourania blows him a kiss that shifts into her index finger held up. One minute. A silent promise that she’ll return to him.

In that acknowledgement, he takes a moment in return to flick his glance toward the box they both left behind earlier. He receives a short nod in return. Understood. His smile persists, a polite thing to match the false pleasantries he's surrounded by, even if it was broken briefly by Tibby's more honest murmuring. Harry looks back to the bar rather than the women directly, one hand lifted in a gesture.

"Mikey, let's get something lovely for these ladies. Their glasses appear to be broken." He tips his head in the bartender's direction as he looks back to Gabriella and Tibby, indicating them to order what they will.

Gabriella makes a face, as if imagining other people’s suffering makes her uncomfortable. “Well, they do say life is short, art is long, so hopefully the resulting art lasts longer than the pain to make it all worthwhile,” she murmurs. “For the artists, that is. Posthumously, probably.”

She holds up a hand to Mikey, and turns her smile on Harry. “Thank you, but I have another engagement to make tonight. Congratulations on what I’m sure will be the shining jewel of Staten Island for many years. Do pass on my bravissima to your rossignol as well. She’s quite lovely.”

Dipping long, manicured fingers into her clutch, she pulls out a bill to pay and tip the bartender, as well as a business card she slides to Tibby. “Call me some warm day and we’ll take that convertible ride, amie,” she murmurs, then lets long legs move her to the exit.

"Oh." There's something genuine about that reaction, as though it hadn't occurred to Robyn yet that this could be one of Marie's managed clubs. It's a revelation that starts some gears turning towards inevitable conclusions, but for now she lowers her head slightly, a surprisingly shy motion in reaction to Marie's gaze.

"Yeah," she agrees with a small nod. "I've been pretty short on inspiration lately, it's true. It's hard when you don't have a muse to inspire you anymore." That much is genuinely true, in her case. She had always been creative, but her best work had always been about Elaine, Sable, or Ygraine, her mom, Rue, or even Amanda. "So all the better if we can inspire each other." Smiling, she looks up at Marie and nods, relaxing a bit in her chair. "I'd love to hear stories of managing a place like this. It can't be too different from a studio."

"A little more money being thrown around… but musically, I suppose it isn't too different." A turn of hand precedes a look towards the stage, where the house band has taken up atmospheric playing. "Such as the band between sets." Jamming away, in bluesy fashion.

Marie's smile turns briefly lopsided, halfway to a smirk. "That's what a muse is for, right? musique, mousike, the 'art of the muses'. I think we could definitely make use of one another's creativity." A hand lifts, mildly placating. "Not to assume that we'll click, but I have only heard good, and we may as well try it out, hm? I'm sure you've got excellent stories to tell too."

Harry smiles when Gabriella makes her understated exit, dipping his head in a gracious nod. "She'll hear it, certainly," he says of her wish to pass on kind words to the singer descended from the stage. "Enjoy the rest of your evening, Ms. Milos."

Afterward, he turns his head to Tibby, leveling a look of interest at her. "What about you? Will you be staying for a while?" Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, he professes, "I have been curious where it is you've been off to, if I'm being honest." One corner of his mouth pulls back in the beginnings of a wry smile. "Any interesting stories to tell? Or perhaps you're looking for new work, new employers, what with all the changes on the island?"

Merci beaucoup,” Ourania offers in a soft voice to the bassist for ushering her to the stairs, “I’ve got it from here.” Her gaze starts at the first of the stairs and wanders to the top. A daunting climb at the moment, but one she’s managed many times before and shall again. She takes a deep breath and begins her ascent.

The song is over, the toast has been made, and Richard leans back in the booth in a more comfortable manner, one arm stretching along the back of it and his other hand cradling the glass within it. "Well, now that's all taken care of," he replies affably, motioning a bit with his glass, "Do keep in touch, Gideon, we shouldn't take so long between meetings. For one thing, I imagine your cooking has only improved with time."

A grin flashed over the edge of the glass, and he takes a sip before pausing, "Oh, and while it's on my mind— I don't suppose you'd be willing to sell me Harry Stoltz's debt to you? I feel like he needs a lesson in where he stands in the food chain."

Business always takes some form or another, and it's never really done. As much is clear when Richard expresses his new desire. Gideon remains passingly neutral to the other man's presence, reactions neither good nor bad. He has yet to decide. Mention of Mr. Stoltz earns Richard a more smug look, a laugh caught in throat, the closing of eyes and dip of chin. Right. That one.

"Harry's debt?" d'Sarthe allows his gaze to wander, albeit brief. "Well, Richard…"

"A fourth of Staten Island has debt too." A harsher glance moves across the lower floor. Hand freed from the hold of his glass, thick fingers drum against the tabletop. "I won't stop you from making me an offer, if you really want that. I advise against it, but it's your wallet."

The curtain separating the box from the vestibule at the landing parts to allow the chartreuse chanteuse entry to the space. “Monsieur d’Sarthe,” she greets evenly. “Suis-je interrompre?” Her gaze settles on Richard, and she doesn’t hide her uncertainty from him. “I’ve come to retrieve my cane.” She doesn’t wait for permission to carry herself the rest of the way in. The reason for her forwardness becomes apparent when she recovers her prize from its lean against the ornate custom piano and sighs her relief once she has the crystal-pommeled walking stick to lean on again.

Her eyes close heavily, taking a moment just to breathe. And engage her ability to help her get a read of the room. It’s safer up here. Fewer distractions. Fewer emotions to sift through. Ourania opens her eyes again and offers a smile to her employer. “Would it be alright if I sat to rest for a little while?” Her blonde head tips toward her piano. “I’d be happy to play in exchange for the refuge, if you like.”

"We shall ride, cherie." Tibby gives Gabby a grin and a wink and watches the young woman make her way towards the exit. She's left considering her own next moves, this was mostly a social outing with a dash of keeping eyes on the people who push the pins on the island of New York.

"One more," lifting her glass to indicate to the bartender that another of her drink will do. Whether Gabriella was a true civilian or among the criminal element like the two left standing at the bar isn't known, but now that someone who doesn't exactly know them is gone, Tibby's posture changes just a tad. Shoulders a little more inward, chin jutted out and emerald eyes piercing as she glances into Harry's eyes. "I've used the curiosity killed the cat phrase too much in my life already," and had it thrown her way enough by now to not use that turn of a phrase in this instance. "Overseas in the Middle East, family business." Her reply is curt and her eyes slide to her empty glass as it's replaced with a full one. That must have not gone too well or she doesn't wish to speak much on it.

"My current employers, they are possessive. But keep me busy, have the best toys. Benefits." Whatever that means, Tibby takes a sip of her drink and smiles. "What of you and yours? This place," gesturing to the lounge as a whole. "Big statement. Though your boss has been making those for quite some time." Commenting on the changes of the island the South African woman surveys the crowd. "I missed all the fighting while you took over."


Harry appreciates the shift in Tibby's demeanor. His own doesn't quite shift to match it, but something more relaxed and at-home slips into his posture. An upward lift of his chin to the bartender indicates he'll have another one of his as well.

"My dear, you didn't miss much. I won't say it was a bloodless transition, but it's not we who were throwing the punches…" A smile is flashed, little more than a creep of his lip back over his canines. "But we were very much ready when the Triad began its death by cuts."

He can't help but be curious regarding Tibby's new employers, though. Ones that take her overseas for periods, or at least let her be overseas for that long. "Toys?" he wonders. "Oh, I do love being on the cutting edge."

Ace smiles again, his interest flashing in his eyes.

"The d'Sarthe Group has enjoyed a period of stability while their hold on the island solidified. Unlike most other elements who were here, they actually do conduct legitimate business as well. It is part of the charm." He tilts his head. "I should say the benefits of being a part of such an enterprise are nothing to balk at… but look at you."

It wasn't like she looked much different than the last time he'd seen her on the island, but she appears no less distinctive than then.

The drink is drained in one last gulp and Tibby grins softly in Ace's direction. "Out with the old, in with the new is what the Americans say no?" On the subject of toys the former feline telepath remains coy, "Maybe someday there will be a demo. To be honest, they aren't the kind many want to play with." It's enough of a hint at what her work actually entails and with that she had said quite enough on that subject.

"Mutually beneficial partnerships, best ones. Keep everyone happy." A light rise of her shoulder as she sets the glass down and pushes off from the bar.

"Ah but it is you who looks so dashing." The pleasantries were something she had learned from her mother… and father. Things her mind had cut her off from, a way to save herself from the trauma of what she's endured but Elia has returned in more ways than just the flesh. "Until next time," Green eyes keep his gaze before she nods her head and begins to slink off.

There was enough air received tonight.

With Ourania having stepped away fully now, Robyn is able to focus all her attention on Marie. Her smile grows as she dips her head a bit. "No one wants to hear my stories. No one would believe my stories. Precious few of them are actually about music, I'm afraid." Or about Studio K or making her album, and even the ones that are tie back to much more insane stories.

"Not to assume," she echoes, chuckling. "But I have a good feeling." Taking a long sip of her drink, she relaxes even more as she sets the glass down and leans forward. "I like this deal, I have to admit."

Chin on her closed hand, Marie laughs gently, smile unfading through her words. "We all have some unbelievable stories, amie. Maybe you will change your mind and tell me a few." The implication means Time comes first— Marie isn't a fan clutching at skirt hems. Robyn can share as she sees fit, but the collaboration, that's priority.

"I just take exception to the way he deals with people without bothering to find out who they…" Then the curtain parts, and Richard trails off, looking up from his drink and the table to Ourania. The smile doesn't fade, but she can feel his emotions— and they're a cliche of the highest order. Not anger. Disappointment, palpable as he looks at her for a long moment.

"You sang wonderfully as ever, Ms. Pride," he says, vaguely motioning with his glass, "We can discuss the matter another time, Gideon."

"Mais bien sûr." Gideon hums as he stands to offer Ourania an assisting hand in her mission to sit alongside them. Richard's passing of the torch of conversation is silently accepted, masked by a personable smile now only for the songstress.

Richard finds himself under the brief, lighthearted scrutiny of "So you've heard her perform before? She doesn't tell me much of her previous experience, but these days, well, it doesn't matter as much as it once did." Gideon's etiquette demands that he waits until she is seated before retaking his own.

Je vous remercie,” Ourania responds to Gideon’s graciousness, accepting his hand as she steps away from the piano and comes around to join them. It’s at his side she sits. Not because she’s taking a side necessarily, but it seems appropriate to take up a position beside the hand that feeds her from this position. Had they been congregating in a conference room at Raytech, she’d be seated next to Richard without question. “Devrais-je me préoccuper de cela?” she asks d’Sarthe in a conversational tone as she settles her cane against her seat.

She may be off the stage, but Miss Pride is still putting on a show. “I invited Richard and his lovely wife to come see a show,” she clarifies for Gideon’s sake. “While we weren’t in full swing the way we are now, I hope they still came away suitably impressed.”

The smile she offers across to Richard is easy enough, but the subtle knit in her brow and the look her eye tells him she knows what he’s feeling, and it affects her. It’s faded from her by the time she returns her focus to Gideon. “You know me, always pouring my heart into it whenever I’m on that stage.” She’d hate to disappoint.

Robyn flirts as much for the sake of it as for the pursuit of anything else, but the way she sits up and laughs, it seems she agrees that the connection comes first. "Maybe someday, then. It's not like all my stories are classified, after all."

With that taciturn acknowledgement of her day job, she takes a long sip of her drink. "After all, Studio K was quite the wild place back in the day." Not that she plans on telling any of the more drug fueled escapades any time soon.

Harry leans back on the bar with one elbow as Tibby-come-Elia turns to head her separate way. He lifts his chin at her as she goes in a sign of farewell of his own before looking back to the bar, catching the bartender looking his way longer than the time it takes to slip his order to him.

"You'll have to look longer than that if you want to find anything of true interest," he warns mildly, eyes half-lidding in his dare for Mikey to continue staring. The man looks off, and a few moments later, so does Harry Ace.

He lifts his eyes to the box above and leans away from the bar, new glass in hand. Rather than head for the stairs, he takes his time with his drink— with observing the way others take in Rossignol and its grace, inserting himself to make introductions or acknowledgements as politesse requires.

Ace trusts that what happens above will make its way to him one way or another, eventually.

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